Research Articles

Chips off of Asteroid 4 Vesta: Evidence for the Parent Body of Basaltic Achondrite Meteorites

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Science  09 Apr 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5105, pp. 186-191
DOI: 10.1126/science.260.5105.186


For more than two decades, asteroid 4 Vesta has been debated as the source for the eucrite, diogenite, and howardite classes of basaltic achondrite meteorites. Its basaltic achondrite spectral properties are unlike those of other large main-belt asteroids. Telescopic measurements have revealed 20 small (diameters ≤ 10 kilometers) main-belt asteroids that have distinctive optical reflectance spectral features similar to those of Vesta and eucrite and diogenite meteorites. Twelve have orbits that are similar to Vesta's and were previously predicted to be dynamically associated with Vesta. Eight bridge the orbital space between Vesta and the 3:1 resonance, a proposed source region for meteorites. These asteroids are most probably multikilometer-sized fragments excavated from Vesta through one or more impacts. The sizes, ejection velocities of 500 meters per second, and proximity of these fragments to the 3:1 resonance establish Vesta as a dynamically viable source for eucrite, diogenite, and howardite meteorites.